Kirk Langley 1 Coach Rangers 4

Monday 28th May 2012
Kirk Langley 1 Coach Rangers 4
Bill Redfern Memorial Cup Second Round
At: G. B. Barrington Playing Field
Kick-off: 7-00 pm
No admission or programme
Weather: sunny
Attendance: 20 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 45:00; second-half: 45:00

Coach Rangers will face Osmaston in the Bill Redfern Memorial Cup semi finals at Mappleton (tbc) a week on Wednesday following a 4-1 victory over Kirk Langley this evening. League leaders Bradley will meet Rose & Crown at Shirley (also tbc) in the other semi-final, also on Wednesday 6th June.

On a pleasant sunny evening at the G. B. Barrington Playing Field, Kirk Langley made Coach work hard especially after they took the lead just before the half-hour mark through Chris Johnson’s near-post volley. Callum Woolley, scorer of seven goals Coach’s 10-1 win in the previous round, clinically levelled things up before the break. Ian Godfrey gave Coach the lead not long after the hour mark before Robert Redfern produced a fantastic reaction save to keep out a header from Jamie Stewart. The save proved crucial as it kept Coach in front and the visitors proceeded to wrap up the win with Godfrey and Woolley both scoring their second goals.

Tonight’s quarter final scores:
Bradley 4 Brassington 1
Kirk Langley 1 Coach Rangers 4
Red Lion 3 Osmaston 9
Rose & Crown 3 Doveridge 0

Coach (in yellow shirts, black shorts and socks) got the game underway attacking the pavilion end in the first half. In what was a patient opening by both sides, Coach almost took the lead in the 18th minute when Matt Hackett saw a header cleared off the line.

However, it was Kirk Langley (9th in the league table with 9 points from 7 games) who opened the scoring in the 29th minute. Chris Johnson met a delicious near-post right-wing corner and volleyed home at the near post.

By this time I was watching the game from by the cricket square in the company of Referees Secretary Ian Fraser and hopper Dave ‘Veteran’ Woodings. I recalled how Coach had conceded first in th elast round at FC Hulland and went on to reply with TEN unanswered goals. We suspected this tie would be closer on an awkward undulating playing surface - and it was.

Eventually, Coach’s patience paid off as they equalised five minutes before the interval. Kev Millward threaded a defence-splitting pass forward into the path of Callum Woolley who clinically fired low past Kevin Rowland into the bottom left corner of the net.

While Rowland had no chance of keeping out Woolley’s shot, the Kirk Langley goalkeeper produced a couple of decent saves during the opening 15 minutes of the second half. He beat away a well-struck shot from Millward and, just before the hour mark, somehow kept out another shot from Hackett.

Coach (who I should have mentioned were 4th in the table with 15 points from 5 games) took the lead in the 64th minute with a swerving shot from Ian Godfrey.

Rowland kept on producing saves and he tipped over a rising 30-yard drive from Paul Godfrey who got forward from the back.

I said to ‘Veteran’ that a Kirk Langley equaliser would make things interesting and they almost got one with 11 minutes remaining. Jamie Stewart got on the end of a right-wing cross and Robert Redfern produced a reaction save to keep the ball out – arguably the best save I’ve seen in Summer League.

In the end, the final score may be cruel on Kirk Langley as Coach wrapped up the win with two goals in 100 seconds during the closing stages. Ian Godfrey’s 25-yard drive took a deflection on the way into the net and Woolley put away a first-time shot from Simon Wint’s pull back.

I’ve always enjoyed my visits to Kirk Langley’s G. B. Barrington Playing Field with views of countryside from one side of the ground and views of the cricket pitch and church from the opposite side by the benches.

Kirk Langley (red with black sleeves / black / black): 1. Kevin Rowland, 2. Tom Alford, x. Pete Ascot, x. Alex Wood, x. Tom Carey, 14. Billy Roberts, x. Dave Molder, 8. Chris Johnson, 4. Liam Smith, x. Pete Stanton, 10. Jamie Stewart, x. Jim Horsfield. Subs: x. Steve Smith, x. John Lyner. [sub 9 for 13, ht]

Coach Rangers (yellow/black/black): 1. Robert Redfern, 3. Carl Allen, 5. Dave Shipley, 6. Paul Godfrey, 7. Kev Millward, 12. Ian Godfrey. 9. Callum Woolley, 16. Craig Richardson, 4. Martyn Taylor, 11. Matt Hackett. Subs: 14. Jimmy Carter (for Hackett, 69), 15. Simon Wint (for Richardson, 65).

1-0 Chris Johnson (29)
1-1 Callum Woolley (40)
1-2 Ian Godfrey (64)
1-3 Ian Godfrey (85)
1-4 Callum Woolley (87)

Broadfields United 4 Interwood 7

Saturday 26th May 2012
Broadfields United 4 Interwood 7
Middlesex County League Premier Division
At: Middlesex Stadium 3G pitch, Breakspear Road, Ruislip
Kick-off: 1-00 pm (delayed until 1-25 pm)
Admission: none; Programme: £2 (12 pages)
Weather: hot and sunny
Attendance: 47
Duration: first-half: 45:08; second-half: 45:49

This Middlesex County League ‘goalfest’, played in scorching hot weather on the ‘Tigerturf’ 3G pitch next to Hillingdon Borough’s ground brought my 2011/12 winter season to a close. By my reckoning, this was the 34th ‘groundhop’ game of the season. Tony Incenzo once again liaised with the home club who initially thought his approach was a ‘wind-up’. It certainly wasn’t and Broadfields United benefitted from a crowd of 47. Already crowned as Premier Division Champions, Interwood scored four unanswered goals during the first half with Toby Ajala bagging a hat-trick. It looked all over yet Broadfields bounced back to reduced the deficit to just one goal but were rocked by the seemingly harsh dismissal of Kyle Watson. Interwood took full advantage of their extra man to eventually win 7-4.

Broadfields United (green with navy blue sleeves / navy blue / navy blue): 32. James Rutniewski, 19. Jack Sikora, 12. Jack Cockburn, 16. Sim Fearon, 8. Adam Rawlings, 11. Ryan Henry, 17. Ryan Duffy (capt), 9. Billy Fraser, 3. Kyle Watson, 7. Shane Styles, 10. David Webster. Subs: x. Tony Webster (not used), 18. Dean Foster (not used), x. Aidan Callanan (not used).

Interwood (white/white/white): 1. Jamie. Moore, 2. Mathew Newman, 3. Michael Di Viana, 4. Otumfour Opuku Ware, 5. Takura Matandari, 6. Kevin Kransniqi, 17. Nick Salapatas, 8. Usman Adeniji, 9. Henderson Browne, 10. Danny Bailey (capt), 11. Toby Ajala. Subs: none.

Referee: S. Stoyanov.
Assistants: J. Keane and M. Smith.

0-1 Toby Ajala (17)
0-2 Toby Ajala (29)
0-3 Toby Ajaja (40)
0-4 Usman Adeniji (44)
1-4 Sim Fearon (49)
2-4 Jack Sikora (55)
3-4 Sim Fearon (61)
3-5 Nick Salapatas (77)
4-5 Sim Fearon (81)
4-6 Toby Ajala (86)
4-7 Kevin Kransniqi (89)

Broadfields: Kyle Watson (RC, 73)

Dronfield Town 0 Westella & Willerby 1

Saturday 19th May 2012
Dronfield Town 0 Westella & Willerby 1
Windsor Foodservice Central Midlands League Black Dragon North
At: Stonelow Road
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £3; Programme: £1 (16 pages)
Weather: cloudy, dry
Attendance: 269
Duration: first-half: 46:33; second-half: 47:04

Both sides could still win the league at kick-off and at full-time it was Westella & Willerby who were celebrating a narrow single-goal victory. A deflected shot from Jonny Slater in the 26th minute lifted the visitors up and over hosts Dronfield Town from fourth into second place in the table. Westella now just need to win next Saturday’s final game at home to lowly Glapwell to clinch the Black Dragon North title and deny current leaders Thoresby Colliery Welfare who completed their fixtures two days ago.

Dronfield Town (red and black stripes / black / black): 1. Nick Siddons, 2. Fred Roberts, 3. Aidan Ashton, 4. Stu Hill, 5. Richard Minstock (capt), 6. Mark Hemsley, 7. Nick Tilly, 8. Brrett Gibbons, 9. Nick Horsfield, 10. John Doran, 11. Kieran Gallagher. Subs: 12. Andy Gange (for Doran, 33), 14. John Perkins (for Tilly, 64), 15. Steve Whitehead (not used), 16. Callum Mawby (for Roberts, 69), 17. Jonny Pugh (not used).

Westella & Willerby (black and white stripes /white / white): 1. Rick Watson (capt), 2. Tom Dent, 3. Alex Knaggs, 4. Gareth Slater, 5. Phil Winn, 6. Tom Andrews, 7. Jonny Slater, 8. Bobby Stevenson, 9. Matt Fyvie, 10. Owen Mountain, 11. Mike Thompson. Subs: 12. Callum Stone (not used), 14. Dean Larvin (for Slater, 83).

Referee: Colin Marshall.
Assistants: Mick Green and Graham Taylor.

0-1 Jonny Slater (26)

Dronfield: Nick Tilly (YC, 58), Stu Hill (YC, 59)
Westella: none

FC Hulland 1 Coach Rangers 10

Thursday 17th May 2012
FC Hulland 1 Coach Rangers 10
Bill Redfern Cup First Round
At: Hulland Ward Playing Field, Ashes Avenue
Kick-off: 7-00 pm
Admission: none; Programme: none
Weather: sunny spells, dry
Attendance: 17 (headcount)
Duration (45): first-half: 45:09; second-half: 45:00

Callum Woolley scored seven goals as Coach Rangers stormed into the Bill Redfern Cup Second Round with a double-figure haul against FC Hulland. Last season’s beaten finalists suffered an early scare when Stuart Simmonds put FC Hulland in front before Woolley scored a first-half hat-trick and netted another four after the break. Kevin Millward, Paul Godfrey and Ian Godfrey also got on the scoresheet, though Hulland’s goalkeeper James Hodge produced a series of decent saves to prevent the winning margin being even greater.

The Bill Redfern Cup honours a man who was associated with the Summer League from ‘day one’:

Bill Redfern’s commitment to the League totalled 64 years which is a remarkable achievement by any standard and is very unlikely to be surpassed. He attended the inaugural meeting of the League at Church Broughton in 1929, played on the very first evening of fixtures, and was a member of the League Council, holding the posts of Vice Chairman and Chairman and was elected President and a life member in 1971. Up to his death in 1994 at the age of 86, he continued to attended meetings and matches. His passing ended an era in the Summer League’s history.

The position of the League today is in no small way due to the unselfish efforts of Bill who gave freely of his time for the enjoyment of others and we must never forget the tremendous debt we owe to him. The Bill Redfern Memorial Cup was first contested in 1995 and Bradley won the inaugural competition.

(Taken from the 2011 Bill Redfern Cup Final programme, which I produced on behalf of the league)

Because of all the recent wet weather, the Summer League table had an uneven appearance with teams of differing numbers of games. Table-toppers Bradley (16 points from 7 games) had played two more games than fourth-placed Coach Rangers (12 points from 5 games) while FC Hulland (9 points from 5 games) stood three positioned lower in seventh.

FC Hulland play home games at the playing field on Ashes Avenue in Hulland Ward, about five miles east of Ashbourne on the road to Belper. It is a flat surface with a slope along one touchline which provides an elevated viewing position.

Coach Rangers (in pink shirts, black shorts and socks) got the game underway attacking from left to right in relation to the slope. They quickly got forward and Hulland goalkeeper James Hodge blocked a right-foot shot from Callum Woolley at the near post.

However, it was FC Hulland who took the lead in the 3rd minute. Stuart Simmons burst through into the area and sent a powerful right-foot shot past the helpless Coach goalkeeper Robert Redfern.

For the next 15 minutes, Coach tried to get back on level terms but both Craig Richardson and Dave Shipley saw headers blocked on the line.

Coach were told to “raise it a bit” and get “move movement” and they did indeed equalise in the 18th minute. Phil Dawson played the ball down the right to Woolley who crossed into the area. Kevin Millward’s hooked a shot towards goal from the far post and Woolley applied the finishing touch.

Woolley struck again two minutes later to put Coach in front with a low shot from the edge of the area.

Hulland got forward looking for an equaliser and Redfern was well positioned to save a shot from Simmonds. A superb saving tackle from Richardson prevented Pete Flynn from scoring in the next attack.

At the other end, Hodge produced a superb save to deny Carl Allen and also got his boot in the way of Millward’s shot just after the half-hour mark.

With Coach continuing to create chances, Woolley completed his hat-trick just before interval, slotting home a loose ball after Millward’s initial effort was saved by Hodge.

Hulland almost pulled a goal back early in the second half, then had Hodge to thank for superb one-handed save which prevented Woolley from scoring again.

“Keep it going Hulland. Let’s get the next goal”.

However, it was Coach not Hulland who scored the next goal in the 56th minute through Millward’s sweet low drive into the bottom-left corner of the net.

The fifth goal came on the hour mark. Paul Godfrey hit a long ball forward from just inside his own half which eluded Hodge, a defender and Millward at it ended up [in my opinion] going straight in the net.

“Tremendous finish, Cal” was heard after the sixth goal went in. Millward crossed from the right and Woolley sent a first-time volley flashing past the keeper.

After Woolley had a ‘goal’ disallowed for offside, he scored the seventh in the 73rd minute to complete a double hat-trick with a well-struck shot from Shipley’s pass and added the eighth a minute later. Hodge and a defender failed to deal with a ball down the right to prevent Woolley with a simple task of slotted into an empty net.

Soon it was 9-1 to Coach and a seventh for Woolley. Sam Howard fed Ian Godfrey who set up a chance for Woolley to blast home unchallenged at the far post.

Later Callum told me he bagged a few six-goal hauls in the past but never a seven-timer before.

Coach wanted a tenth goal and spent some 11 minutes creating and missing chances before the ball was in the back on the Hulland net for the final time. Ian Godfrey hit a low 30-yard drive that crept through a populated area and into the bottom-left corner out of reach of the diving Hodge.

The was time for a final Coach chance – Martyn Taylor fired wide from Millward’s corner – before referee Chris Cope blew for full-time.

FC Hulland (light blue black black): 1. James Hodge, 7. Simon Donnelly, 14. Dave Oakes, x. John Harrison, x. Matt Harwood, x. Carl Russell, 5. Connor Hodgkinson, x. Matt Alcock, x. Martin Bates, 11. Pete Flynn, 10 Stuart Simmonds. Subs: 5. Dan Ford (for no. 3, 51), Charlie Mansfield (not used).

Coach Rangers (pink/black/black): 1. Robert Redfern, 15. Phil Dawson, 16. Craig Richardson, 5. Dave Shipley, 6. Paul Godfrey, 10. Sam Howard, 3. Carl Allen, 9. Ian Godfrey, 14. Craig Frith, 11. Callum Woolley, 7. Kevin Millward. Subs: 4. Martyn Taylor (for Richardson, 57), 2. Dan Frith (for Craig Frith, 60)

Referee: Chris Cope.

1-0 Stuart Simmonds (3)
1-1 Callum Woolley (18)
1-2 Callum Woolley (20)
1-3 Callum Woolley (44)
1-4 Kevin Millward (56)
1-5 Paul Godfrey (60)
1-6 Callum Woolley (69)
1-7 Callum Woolley (73)
1-8 Callum Woolley (74)
1-9 Callum Woolley (78)
1-10 Ian Godfrey (89)

Cards: none

FC Cefn 4 Corwen 2

Saturday 12th May 2012
FC Cefn 4 Corwen 2
Guy Walmsley & Co Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Premier Division
At: The Muga, Plas Kynaston Field, Plas Kynaston Lane, Cefn Mawr
Kick-off: 2-30 pm
Admission: none; Programme: none
Weather: warm and sunny
Attendance: 140 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 45:18; second-half: 49:11

FC Cefn, founded as recently as 2006, capped a memorable 2011/12 campaign by gaining more than the point needed to secure the Premier Division title with a game to spare. On a nice warm and sunny afternoon spent at The Muga in the company of Chris Powell, visitors Corwen were determined to spoil the party by twice taking the lead but FC Cefn equalised on both occasions before edging ahead from the penalty spot. The home side wrapped up the win with a fourth goal before Corwen had defender Will Roberts sent off. The League President was on hand at full-time to present the trophy and medals to the champions.

Without heading up to Scotland, travelling down to Wembley Stadium for the FA Carlsberg Trophy Final or dipping into the npower League play-offs, I could only find a handful of other games with something at stake. The one which appealed more than the others was this Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Premier Division game with home side FC Cefn needing to avoid defeat to win the title.

The ‘historic’ village of Cefn Mawr, located off the A483 and A5 around seven miles south of Wrexham, is home to Cymru Alliance side Cefn Druids and also up-and-coming relative newcomers FC Cefn:

FC Cefn were founded in 2006 by Mr Billy Evans, Mr Bill Kempster, Steven Davies and Mark 'Jusso' Jones. The team joined the Welsh National League Division 3 for the 2007/2008 season, playing their home fixtures from Ty-Mawr Park. That season FC Cefn won the Div 3 title by one point from Gwersyllt FC. They were promoted straight to Div 1 and where once again winning the [2008/09] title from Gwersyllt FC, this time by nine points, also winning the Div 1 League Cup, making it a splendid league and cup double. FC Cefn were promoted to the Premier Division. During this season they also changed their home ground and moved to The Mugga Plaskynaston Lane. In their first season in the Premier Division they finished a respectable 11th place and lost to the venture 3-2 in the League Cup Final. Progress continued last season when the finished higher up the table in fifth position (edited website history)

I’ve no idea why the Plas Kynaston Field is known as ‘The Muga’ but I do know that is located immediately south of Cefn Druid’s old ground which has recently been redeveloped into a Tesco store. It is certainly a pleasant place on two levels with the fully-railed-off pitch at the foot of a steep bank down which runs the length of the left-hand side. Trees hide the Wrexham–Shrewsbury railway line running adjacent to the right-hand touchline. However, I couldn’t help noticing the prominent yellow supermarket wall.

FC Cefn (69 points from 28 games) topped the table by three points from Rhydymwyn (66 points from 29 games). Rhydymwyn played their final game this afternoon at home to Venture but, regardless of the outcome of that game, FC Cefn just needed to pick up a point from either of their last two games. But, as someone said to me at the tea bar, they didn’t fancy needing to get a result from their last game against local rivals Chirk AAA if things went wrong this afternoon. Visitors Corwen (35 points from 29 games) occupied 12th position in the 16-team division.

Before kick-off, I was joined by fellow blogger Chris Powell who writes the excellent Damage in the Box. He reminded me that the ground had hosted Aberystwyth Town in the Welsh Cup earlier in the season. FC Cefn lost 6-1 to the Welsh Premier League side in front of a record crowd of around 300.

Corwen (in red shirts, black shorts and red socks), defending the 'yellow wall' end, got the first half underway and caused plenty of problems for the league leaders who, as someone shouted, were “quiet lads”. The visitors went close around the quarter hour mark when Andy Roberts headed over at the same time as the first train of the afternoon hurtled past on the way to Shrewsbury.

FC Cefn goalkeeper Gareth Jones pulled off a superb acrobatic save to keep out a header from Dave Roberts that looked destined for the back of the net.

Concerns amongst the home players and fans (most of whom watched the game from the higher vantage point on top of the slope) significantly increased in the 29th minute when Corwen took the lead. Andy Roberts latched on to a throughball down the right into the area and slotted past the advancing Gareth Jones (photo right).

“We are not working hard enough”.

However, FC Cefn quickly raised their game and equalised seven minutes later. Darren Williams flicked on Nick Williams’s free-kick for Oli Davies to fire home at close range.

“You don’t deserve it. Wake up!”

Corwen goalkeeper Bobby Jones produced a brave save to block a shot from Nick Williams as FC Cefn quickly got forward. Oli Davies also saw a shot blocked by a defender and the teams were locked at 1-1 when the half-time whistle blew.

Told to “enjoy the half”, Corwen made a bright start to the second half and, within 25 seconds of the restart, Gareth Jones kept out a first-time shot from Andy Roberts.

The goalkeeper, however, could do nothing in the 48th minute to keep out a superb lob from Dave Roberts which put Corwen back in front.

Oli Davies thought he’d equalised just before the hour mark, only to see his header chalked off for offside.

FC Cefn equalised for the second time in the 63rd minute. Nick Williams got on the end of a long ball out of defence by James Jones down the right and flicked it past the advancing Bobby Jones into the net.

Not wanting to slip up, the home side started to dominate and Bobby Jones bravely got in the way of a shot inside the area from Paul Griffiths. Darren Williams then crossed to the far post from the right where Nick Williams narrowly missed with a diving header.

The game was played in a really good spirit and it wasn’t until the 78th minute when the first of a couple of late debatable decisions occurred. Bobby Jones, goalkeeper and last defender, collided with Oli Davies inside the area, prompting the referee to award a penalty and only punish the goalkeeper with a yellow card. I think the referee used his discretion to keep Jones on the field where most would have brandished a straight red card for denying a goalscoring opportunity. After Davies received treatment, Nick Williams converted the penalty so that Corwen needed to score twice to stop the title celebrations.

A nice simple goal put the outcome beyond doubt in the 83rd minute. Darren Williams flicked on Sean Jones’ long throw from the right and Lee Jones headed home at the far post. At 4-2, it didn’t now matter what was happening at Rhydymwyn and FC Ceyn didn’t need to get a point from their final game.

In the closing stages, Corwen were forced to substitute goalkeeper Bobby Jones and had defender sent off with a straight red card during the 88th minute on the advice of an Assistant Referee, presumably for something said out of turn. Right at the end, Corwen were awarded a free-kick which Scott Evans fired over the bar and Mr Woodward blew for full-time before the goal kick was taken. FC Cefn had done it!

Shortly before full-time, both myself and Chris noticed a table being prepared for the presentations – a nice way to round off an enjoyable afternoon. The presentation announcer mentioned that Cefn Albion won the Division One title (top division back in 1980/81) and that the fathers of three current FC Cefn players were members of that successful Albion side.

FC Cefn (blue/blue/blue): 1. Gareth Jones, 2. Sean Jones, 3. Sam Roberts, 4. James Jones, 5. Paul Griffiths (capt), 6. Paul Mazzarella, 7. Lee Jones, 8. Darren Williams, 9. Nick Williams, 10. Oli Davies, 11. Andrew Dexter. Subs: 12. Nick Jones (for Lee Jones, 89), 14. Nathan Williams (for Dexter, 62), 15. Alex Williams (for Davies, 89).

Corwen (red/black/red): 1. Bobby Jones, 2. Nathan davies, 3. Sion Hughes, 4. Tommy Davies, 5. Will Roberts, 6. Scott Evans, 7. Cris Davies, 8. Ryan Billington (capt), 9. Andy Roberts, 10. Dave Davies, 11. Dave Roberts. Subs: 12. Hefin Agotz (for Dave Davies, 89), 14gk. Jamie Buddin (for Jones, 84), 15. Neil Brown (not used).

Referee: Mike Woodward.

0-1 Andy Roberts (29)
1-1 Oli Davies (36)
1-2 Dave Roberts (48)
2-2 Nick Williams (63)
3-2 Nick Williams (80 pen)
4-2 Lee Jones (83)

FC Cefn: Paul Griffiths (YC, 90+4)
Corwen: Bobby Jones (YC, 78), Dave Davies (YC, 85), Will Roberts (RC, 88)

Blackwood 3 Archdale ’73 2

Wednesday 9th May 2012
Blackwood 3 Archdale ’73 2
Athium Midland Combination Division 1
At: Field Lane, Solihull
Kick-off: 7-00 pm
Admission: none; Programme: none
Weather: rain
Attendance: 25 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 45:41; second-half: 46:19

Blackwood can now look forward to playing Midland Combination Premier Division football next season, groundsharing at Highgate United, as Division One champions after gaining more than the point they needed to take the title. After losing at Archdale on Saturday, a superb free-kick from former Stafford Rangers midfielder Chris Milliard calmed any Blackwood nerves this evening before goals in each half from Jacob Snape seemingly put the outcome beyond doubt in the return fixtures. However, a decent Archdale side didn’t give up and pulled two goals back before the end through Matt Tyler and central defender Richard Esp. This was Blackwood's final game at Hampton FC and one played mainly in rain on a heavy pitch.

I remember seeing Blackwood in December 2009 against Stratford Town ‘A’ on the artificial pitch at Knights Lane when just about all games on grass across the Midlands were frozen off. Blackwood won 5-1 that day and included three former Stafford Rangers fringe players in Richard Mills, Chris Milliard and Ross Clarke. More recently in April 2010, I also remember visiting tonight’s Field Lane venue to see Hampton host Feckenham.

Since that game at Stratford, Blackwood finished that 2010/11 season as Midland Combination Division Three Champions. Last season they won Division Two Championship and will finish this season at the top of Division One. According to their website, the club has now been promoted for six consecutive seasons.

The announcement of the new groundshare at Highgate was made at the beginning of last month on their website (

Blackwood On The Move

Blackwood FC are pleased announce they will be moving to a new home at Highgate United for the start of season 2012-2013. This move will enable the club to gain promotion to the Midland Combination Premier Division should we finish in the top two this term.

This announcement comes after several weeks and months of talks between representatives of both Highgate United and Blackwood FC and I would like to place on record my thanks to everyone involved in securing this move.

I would also like to thank Hampton FC for being such good hosts to Blackwood FC for the last six seasons. I for one know we will be leaving Field Lane in a much better condition than we found it.

The are several sports field in the Field Lane and Lugtrout Lane area, a few miles north-east of Solihull and a few miles south of Birmingham Airport. As well as Hampton Sports Club (where Blackwood play), there is also The Glades (previously used by West Midlands Fire Service and currently by FC Glades) and another complex on the opposite side of Field Lane (used by Coldlands Colts).

Hampton/Blackwood’s fully railed-off pitch was tucked into south-west corner on the other side of the clubhouse/changing room block in relation to the entrance. There was banking along the right-hand touchline with dugouts either side of the half-way line. There was also banking behind the far goal. Since my visit two years ago, two stands have been erected on either side of the dugouts but the gorse bush I photographed has been removed. There is also a second pitch next to the car park.

Second-placed Blackwood (68 points from 32 games, GD +24) were level with leaders Littleton (68 points from 34 games, GD +30) who had completed their fixtures. Visitors Archdale ’73 (49 point sfrom 32 games) were in ninth position.

I was joined by ‘Groundhopper Dave’ (wearing a St Neots Town hat) just before Blackwood (in blue and black stripes, black shorts and socks) got the game underway attacking the changing rooms end in the first half. We were soon joined by another Dave.

On a rain-soaked pitch, Archdale keeper Dean Smith produced a fine save in the 8th minute to tip over a rising 25-yard drive hit by Steve Bell.

Blackwood took the lead on the half-hour. Awarded a free-kick just outside the area for a foul on the lively Jacob Snape, captain Chris Milliard, once of Stafford Rangers, drove past the wall and straight into the bottom left corner of the net.

Snape was unlucky to be flagged offside when he got on the end of a pass from Chris Hill and fired past Smith.

Luck, however, was very much with Snape in the 41st minute when he looked offside as he latched onto another pass from Hill down the right. With no flag, the striker raced into the area, rounded Smith and slotted home.

We walked the first half under the cover nearest to the changing rooms and the goal that Blackwood were attacking. Expecting more goals, we moved up the touchline to the stand at the far end.

Blackwood added a third goal in the 72nd minute. Snape stayed onside as he ran down the left into the area, drew the keeper and fired home into an unguarded net.

With rain failing and light fading, Archdale pulled a goal back six minutes later. Matt Tyler, from out on the right, hit a cross-sum-shot which looped over goalkeeper Richard Mills into the far left side of the net.

With Blackwood told to “wake up again”, Archdale continued to press forward and a saving tackle from Nick Harris prevented Matt Hunt for getting a clear shot on goal.

Archdale scored again in the 89th minute. Damien Fearn delivered a right-wing corner to the far post where defender Richard Esp fired home at close range.

There wasn’t time left for Archdale to equalise, let along get another two goals to win the game, and Blackwood were left to celebrate another championship and promotion.

Blackwood (blue and black stripes / black / black): 1. Richard Mills, 2. Simon Hudson, 3. Nick Harris, 4. Wayne Hall, 5. Warren Grant, 6. Chris Hill, 7. Danny Hemmings, 8. Steve Bell, 9. Jacob Snape, 10. Chris Milliard (capt), 11. Shane Lucas. Subs: 12. Tony Clarke (for Hemmings, 76), 14. Nick John (for Lucas, 61), 15. Adam Tilsley (not used), 16. Ashley Griffiths (not used), 17. Lee Thorpe (not used).

Archdale ’73 (white/white/white): 1. Dean Smith, 2. Mark Saycell, 3. Adam Granger, 4. Wayne Lloyd, 5. Richard Esp, 6. Adam Price, 7. Matt Tyler, 8. Luke Williams, 9. Mike Chamber, 10. Mark Owen (capt), 11. Damien Fearn. Subs: 12. Matt Hunt (for Price, 67), 14. Elliot Dale (for Chamber, ht).

Referee: Mark Chester.
Assistants: Paul Sudbury and Matt Hull.

1-0 Chris Milliard (30)
2-0 Jacob Snape (41)
3-0 Jacob Snape (72)
3-1 Matt Tyler (78)
3-2 Richard Esp(89)


Burntwood Town 1 Chelmsley Town 3

Monday 7th May 2012
Burntwood Town 1 Chelmsley Town 3
Athium Midland Combination Division 2
At: Red Lion Ground, Brereton
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: none; Programme: none
Weather: cold, occasional drizzle
Attendance: 35 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 46:10; second-half: 51:05

Chelmsley Town will complete the season in third position in the Athium Midland Combination Division Two table but they didn’t get the substanial victory they needed to finish as runners-up to Champions Greenhill. Following goalless first half, the visitors scored three times in 13 minutes to secure the win and Burntwood, who played a lot better than a bottom-of-the-table side, scored a late consolation from the penalty spot. This was my fourth visit to the Red Lion Ground and, interestingly for me, Burntwood were the fourth different home side (the previous three being Brereton Social, Coton Green and Rugeley Rangers).

Burntwood Town (orange with black right sleeve / black / black): 1. Michael Barrett, 2. Shaun Street, 3. Reece Gentles, 4. Andy Batha (capt), 5. Luke Hyden, 6. Mitch Morehouse, 7. Karl Johnson, 8. Dean Brookes, 9. Tom Green, 10. Gary Longdon, 11. Paul Harvey. Subs: 12. Phil Wright (for Morehouse, 79), 14. Jason Fardo (not used), 15. Brett Dewsbury (for Harvey 81), 16. Mark Wright (not used).

Chelmsley Town (sky blue and white stripes / sky blue / white): 1. Craig Blaxland, 2. Tonn Adcock, 3. Adam Lee, 4. James Butterworth, 5. Darryl Harris, 6. Darren Followell (capt), 7. Darren Coles, 8. Ross Casey, 9. Gavin Parsons, 10. Scott Hewitt, 11. Garry Humphries. Subs: 12. Joe Burke (for Hewitt, 76), 14. Scott Parker (for Adcock, 74), 15. Richard Sadler (not used), 16. Curtis Walters (for Followell, 71), 17. Steve Pike (not used). Manager: Steve Soloman.

Referee: Mike Mooney.
Assistants: Ross Gilbert and Jade Prince.

0-1 Gavin Parsons (65)
0-2 Adam Lee (74)
0-3 Cutris Walters (78)
1-3 Tom Green (82 pen)

Burntwood: none
Chelmsley: James Butterworth (YC, 36)

Gornal Athletic 1 Wolverhampton Casuals 2

Saturday 5th May 2012
Gornal Athletic 1 Wolverhampton Casuals 2
West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division
At: Garden Walk Stadium
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £4; Programme: £1 (16 pages)
Weather: cold, occasional sunny spells and showers
Attendance: 130 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 45:58; second-half: 49:02

Gornal Athletic received the Premier Division shield at the end of this game which saw their long unbeaten run in the league was brought to an end by a decent Wolverhampton Casuals side. The result didn’t matter really as The Peacocks made sure they couldn’t be caught at the top last Saturday with an emphatic 8-2 win over Sporting Khalsa. Ricky Nicholls put Gornal ahead around the half hour mark and they held the lead until Casuals equalised through Tom Maydew in the 70th minute. Needing a win to boast their hopes of finishing third, Casuals pressed for a winner and got it ten minutes later courtesy of an own goal from Robin Keates.

There were a couple of things that persuaded me to head for the Garden Walk Stadium this afternoon, as an alternative to visiting any of the three ‘new grounds’ I could have easily reached. My last visit to the ground was in April 1990 when most of my photos turned out to be blurred and I also remembered seeing Blakenall being presented with the Premier Division shield way back in May 1986 (on the 6th, so a day short of being precisely 26 years ago). In that game I mentioned in 1990, Gornal entertained Cradley Town and draw 1-1 in the Banks's Brewery West Midlands (Regional) League Division One.

The Garden Walk Stadium is a wonderful venue which, according to Kerry Miller’s book, was opened in 1950. The main feature is the huge terrace on the entrance side of the ground, with around 20-25 steps, in two sections. In between, behind the home dugout are four rows of seats and an area of cover at the back. Opposite is a low stand containing two rows of individual red seats, frequented today by around 30 vocal youngsters, some wearing blue Gornal scarves.

I’ve touched on a ‘bucket list’ of grounds to visit before (Bourne Town report in January) and this place certainly should be guaranteed a place.

For those not familiar with Black Country geography, Gornal is located south of Wolverhampton and west of Dudley and covers the areas of Upper Gornal, Lower Gornal and Gornal Wood.

Programmes, which sold out more than 30 minutes before kick-off were on sale at the entrance and, helpfully, a teamsheet was displayed close by. I liked the cover design with a prominent brightly-coloured peacock.

As I mentioned, Gornal (champions with 105 points from 41 games, GD +103) couldn’t be caught at the top by second-placed Black Country Rangers. If third place is worth fighting for, and I think is certainly is, then visitors Wolverhampton Casuals (3rd with 81 points from 40 games) still had something to play for. They were four points clear of fourth-placed Bewdley Town (77 points from 39 games) who had a game in hand.

Before kick-off, Gornal received a guard of honour as they were applauded down the steps from the changing rooms to the pitch by the Casuals players and management.

Gornal (in all blue) got the game underway attacking from left to right in relation to the open seats and dugouts. Casuals soon got forward and almost took the lead after 54 seconds. Tom Maydew fired wide of the near post from an acute angle after rounding Gornal goalkeeper James Pemberton.

Befitting a side unbeaten in the league since mid-September, Gornal soon started to impress and were denied a goal by Dan Ware’s superb one-handed reaction save on the quarter hour to keep out Kristian Green’s close-range header.

Gornal took the lead on the half-hour when Ricky Nicholls sent a low drive past the diving Ware into the bottom left corner of the net. The local youngsters celebrated the goal in style from inside the low stand on the far side of the ground.

I was certainly enjoying the entertainment and watching two decent sides. Just before the break, it was Pemberton’s turn to prevent what looked like a certain goal. Dan Newman put Maydew clear inside the area and the advancing goalkeeper’s outstretched left hand kept out a low shot.

Maydew could have levelled things up four minutes after the restart when a backheader from defender Chris Waterhouse put Pemberton in trouble. However, the striker couldn’t hit the target from barely a yard out.

Casuals equalised in the 70th minute (see photo right for the celebrations). Maydew got on the end of a right-wing cross and placed a header wide of Pemberton into the bottom right corner.

Gornal hadn’t lost a home league game all season and prior today had won 16 out of 20 at the Garden Walk. That run came to an end when the visitors scored an 80th-minute winner. Maydew crossed low from the left towards the far post where defender Robin Keates turned the ball into his own net. The Peacocks had ten minutes plus stoppage time left to try and bag an equaliser.

After the second Casuals goal, I watched the final eight or so minutes from the top of the terrace even though rain started to fall increasing heavily. The home side were twice denied a goal in quick succession. Gurdeep Wilkhoo saw a header from Wherton’s left-wing corner headed off the line at the expense of a corner. Also delivered by Wherton this time from the right, substitute Matt Martin had a shot blocked right on the line. The home side appealed for a goal but the well-positioned Assistant decided the whole of the ball hadn’t crossed the line.

Gornal had one last chance to salvage a point in stoppage time. Matt Martin fired a 22-yard free-kick over the bar and referee Adam Dean blew of full-time before the goal kick could be taken.

Thankfully the rain had stopped by full-time so didn’t put a dampener of the presentation of championship medals and the Premier Division shield. Gornal can look forward to Baker Joiner Midland Alliance football next season.

Gornal Athletic (blue/blue/blue): 1. James Pemberton, 2. Kieron Parsons, 3. Robin Keates, 4. Conner Gater, 5. Chris Waterhouse (capt), 6. Kristian Green, 7. Gurdeep Wilkhoo, 8. Lee Wherton, 9. Ricky Nicholls, 10. Seb Craven, 11. Matt Weyman. Subs: 12. Marvin Nisbett (for Craven, 56), 14. Callum Martin (not used), 15. Mike Perks (for Nicholls, 60), 16. Richard Young (not used), 17. Matt Martin (for Parsons, 71). Manager: Ian Rowe.

Wolverhampton Casuals (green and white halves / green / green and white hoops): 1. Dan Ware, 2. Carlo Franco, 3. Luke Tudor, 4. Ray Facey, 5. Dan Lloyd, 6. Shaun Griffiths, 7. Dean Clarke, 8. Dan Newman (capt), 9. Tom Maydew, 10. Mike Davies, 11. John Aldridge. Subs: 12. Angelo Franco (for Davies, ht), 14. Giles Harvey (for Tudor, 78), 15. Simon Rowley (for Facey, 90+1), 16. Ben Wilkes (not used), 17. Lee Cooke (not used). Manager: Lee Cooke.

Referee: Adam Dean.

1-0 Ricky Nicholls (31)
1-1 Tom Maydew (70)
2-2 Robin Keates (80 og)

Gornal: Robin Keates (YC, 23)
Wolves Casuals: Mike Davies (YC, 41)